Paul Johnson

Aesthetes on Trial

What Good are the Arts?


Weidenfeld & Nicolson 350pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

The first five chapters of this book are based on the Northcliffe Lectures Professor Carey gave at University College London last year. To these he has added two chapters on the importance of English literature. The little book which emerges from this conjunction is contradictory: Carey seems to think that the arts are not much use, with the exception of literature, presumably because he cares deeply about writing but is not emotionally involved with the other arts. On the other hand, the book is well written, incisive, entertaining and thought-provoking, and anyone with the smallest intellectual pretensions will be the better for reading it.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Start your week with a dose of Russian Revolutionary zeal. Donald Rayfield reviews Tobie Mathew's 'Greetings From t… ,
    • A treat from the LR Archive: exactly 20 years ago, Malcolm Bradbury reviewed John Updike's 'Bech at Bay' ,
    • ‘When bullets come close, the noise they make as they go past changes from a zing to a crack’ John Lanchester's dy… ,
    • Man with a Bloody Paintbrush: Robin Simon on Lucian Freud ,
    • Jane Ridley reviews The Diaries of Kenneth Rose (ed. D R Thorpe) ,
    • ‘Look,’ says Trump. ‘The fact is I’m only human.’ On the evidence of this book that point is debatable. From the A… ,
    • From our December/January issue - here's John Banville's review of Colm Tóibín on the fathers of Wilde, Yeats and J… ,